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When Is It Foolish to Reward for A While Benefiting from B?

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  • Wendelin Schnedler

Abstract

A performance measure may or may not reflect the relative importance of different tasks for the production of benefit: it can be aligned or unaligned. Here, I examine when using an aligned measure generates a larger surplus in a principal-agent relationship than using an unaligned but otherwise identical measure. I find that (i) the agent's effort costs matter for the optimal way of measuring performance, and (ii) the optimal measure is not aligned but tilted toward tasks that the agent finds easy. Failing to recognize these insights may lead to false predictions about the use of incentives. (c) 2008 by The University of Chicago.

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  • Wendelin Schnedler, 2008. "When Is It Foolish to Reward for A While Benefiting from B?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(4), pages 595-619, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlabec:v:26:y:2008:i:4:p:595-619
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. George Baker & Robert Gibbons & Kevin J. Murphy, 1994. "Subjective Performance Measures in Optimal Incentive Contracts," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(4), pages 1125-1156.
    2. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1987. "Aggregation and Linearity in the Provision of Intertemporal Incentives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(2), pages 303-328, March.
    3. George Baker, 2000. "The Use of Performance Measures in Incentive Contracting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 415-420, May.
    4. Srikant Datar & Susan Cohen Kulp & Richard A. Lambert, 2001. "Balancing Performance Measures," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 39(1), pages 75-92, June.
    5. Fershtman, Chaim & Judd, Kenneth L, 1987. "Equilibrium Incentives in Oligopoly," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(5), pages 927-940, December.
    6. Steven D. Sklivas, 1987. "The Strategic Choice of Managerial Incentives," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 18(3), pages 452-458, Autumn.
    7. J. A. Mirrlees, 1999. "The Theory of Moral Hazard and Unobservable Behaviour: Part I," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(1), pages 3-21.
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    Cited by:

    1. Paul A. Grout & Wendelin Schnedler, 2008. "Non-Profit Organizations in a Bureaucratic Environment," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 08/202, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
    2. Chen, Bo, 2012. "All-or-nothing payments," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(3), pages 133-142.
    3. Kragl, Jenny & Schöttner, Anja, 2011. "Wage Floors and Optimal Job Design," Annual Conference 2011 (Frankfurt, Main): The Order of the World Economy - Lessons from the Crisis 48731, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    4. Schnedler, Wendelin, 2013. "Incentive Design and Mis-Allocated Effort," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79775, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    5. Dietrichson, Jens, 2013. "Coordination Incentives, Performance Measurement and Resource Allocation in Public Sector Organizations," Working Papers 2013:26, Lund University, Department of Economics.
    6. Thiele, Veikko, 2010. "Task-specific abilities in multi-task principal-agent relationships," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(4), pages 690-698, August.
    7. Jenny Kragl & Anja Schöttner, 2014. "Wage Floors, Imperfect Performance Measures, And Optimal Job Design," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 55, pages 525-550, May.
    8. Delfgaauw, Josse & Souverijn, Michiel, 2016. "Biased supervision," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 107-125.
    9. Butschek, Sebastian & Kampkötter, Patrick & Sliwka, Dirk, 2017. "Paying Gig Workers," Annual Conference 2017 (Vienna): Alternative Structures for Money and Banking 168149, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

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